Eleri Connick

The University of Amsterdam

Eleri Connick is a PhD Candidate at The University of Amsterdam Centre for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture.

"Her research rests on two hypotheses: the diaspora creates space to remember, (re)construct and (re)define the conception of identity and heritage; and diasporic cultural creative spaces explore the fluidity of identity and heritage as being continually shaped by present socio-political contexts. Her research is centred on the Middle East as a diasporic space, and focuses on Palestinian, Syrian and Libyan communities. Creativity is the generation of something new –the focus on (re)creation in my research is inspired by Stuart Hall’s (1990) reflection on cultural identity as a “way of being”, whereby “cultural identity is not a fixed essence” but where identities are “constantly producing and reproducing themselves anew”. The research seeks to challenge the perception that a diasporic experience is one simply defined by classical narratives such as ‘victim’, ‘refugee’ and ‘exiled’. This “paradoxical juxtaposition of heritage and art, the old and the new, which reflects the very modernity of heritage itself” as de Cesari (2010) describes is key to moving beyond homogenous notions of diasporas. Heritage, and the way in which it is given meaning, provides a lens through which to untangle the complex web of history and the way in which such a history and speculation of a different Palestine, Syria and Libya can manifest through arts and cultural production. The research takes a decolonial approach to understanding how memories of violence in the past intertwine with conceptions and performativity of identity and heritage in the present. Just as heritage is alive and a “living thing” so too is the power arising from art and cultural objects. She argues that diasporic cultural creative spaces are spaces to both empower and preserve heritage under threat.

Connick holds funding from ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius “Beyond Borders” programme. Prior to this, Connick obtained an MSc in Conflict Resolution Resolution from the University of Amsterdam (2021), and a MA (Hons) in Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh (2018). Her Master’s thesis “Blurring the Distance” challenged assumptions of entity-oriented approaches to studying diasporas in terms like “diasporas as agents of conflict-resolution”, and was shortlisted for two M:A: thesis prizes: Amsterdam Centre for Middle Eastern Studies on a topic on MENA at the University of Amsterdam and the Stichting Vredeswetenschappen ‘Visions on Peace’ Prize for best contribution to peace in the Netherlands."

-- Eleri Connick, 2022